Santee Cooper extends power-saving agreement with largest customer

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Santee Cooper and the Central Electric Power Cooperative have signed a multi-billion-dollar cost-saving extension of an agreement to purchase power from Santee Cooper. The savings will benefit all cooperative consumers as well as other wholesale customers and direct served residential, commercial and industrial customers of Santee Cooper. In addition to the savings, the agreement creates a collaborative approach to planning for Santee Cooper and the Electric Cooperatives, Santee Cooper's largest customer.

Through their wholesale electricity aggregator, Central Electric Power Cooperative, the 20 independent retail electric cooperatives agreed to the extension of the Coordination Agreement, a complex document that governs how Central and Santee Cooper work together. The boards of both organizations approved the agreement in separate votes. With this amendment, the contract between the two entities cannot be terminated prior to 2058.

"Today's signing puts in place significant changes that will help make our two organizations partners in power supply planning and delivery," said Ronald J. Calcaterra, president and CEO of Central. "It will be a true and effective partnership that aligns the interests of both parties."

The amendment is noteworthy also because of its influence on electricity rates for the more than 2 million South Carolinians who use power from either electric cooperatives or Santee Cooper.

"Today is a win for South Carolina, which has enjoyed the fruits of our partnership with Central for more than 60 years already," said Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of Santee Cooper. "One immediate benefit of this extension is it will provide the credit agencies the stability that they need as they evaluate our bonds. This should translate into lower interest rates on our debt, which helps us keep power costs low for all our customers."

Lower power costs are also important to Central and Santee Cooper as they work to attract and retain industry. Electric cooperatives and Santee Cooper last year announced a new discounted economic development rate designed to attract large industry to the state.

The cooperatives and Santee Cooper also promote growth through their jointly funded South Carolina Power Team, the only statewide non-governmental economic development organization. Since its founding in 1988, the Power Team has participated in more than 600 industrial expansions and new developments representing $9.3 billion in capital investment, more than 52,400 new jobs and $2 billion in annual payroll.

Today's signing followed approval in separate votes by directors for each organization. Central's board of directors approved the contract May 8, and Santee Cooper's board approved it earlier today.

"More than a year ago, the board directed staff to push hard for long-term rate and contract improvements," said Lawrence J. Hinz, Central's board chairman, "and board members were unanimous in their approval of that hard work. Congratulations to the staffs of both organizations for working together for the good of all."

O.L. Thompson, Santee Cooper Chairman of the Board of Directors, said, "From providing electricity to every corner of the state, to our work with the Power Team and renewable Green Power, we've delivered many groundbreaking projects already. Today's signing signals more opportunity ahead for what is truly a powerful partnership."